Robert Wilson, UBU. Performed at ‘the BODY: The Watermill Center Annual Summer Benefit’, 2023. Courtesy of The Watermill Center.

The Watermill Center held its annual summer benefit this year titled “the BODY” on July 29th, 2023, celebrating art and creative experimentation in support of the organization’s year-round Artist Residency and Education programming. The event premiered the solo exhibition of artist Regina Jose Galindo, “The Body,” on view through October 15th. A special talkback with the artist will be held on August 12th at The Watermill Center’s Artists Table Brunch series.

The 2023 Annual Summer Benefit’s theme was the body and its role in art making. Regina Jose Galindo’s “SIREN” performance, along with a dozen mechanics working with her, presented a natural dialogue with her exhibition, tracing her twenty-year career as a performance artist and poet.

Regina José Galindo, “Aparición”. Courtesy of The Watermill Center.

“The spectacle of seeing a team of mechanics slowly dismantle a decommissioned police cruiser while Regina sat passively inside created a profound significance from simple acts. Watching the roof of the vehicle being removed or sparks flying as the chassis was cut in two was deeply captivating, and that was just one of nearly twenty works on display,” said Managing Director Elise Herget.

While the clear skies were interrupted with rain, Artistic Director Robert Wilson did not mind. He said, “It is perfect, I came to this area to be close to nature!” Those who withstood the rainstorm enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime performance of “Ubu.” The rain took out the sound system, so Wilson narrated the production live, a first for both The Watermill Center and Wilson himself.

Evelyn Dugan, “Taut Nature.” Photo by Maria Baranova Suzuki, BFA, courtesy of The Watermill Center.

Performed by The Watermill Center’s summer Artists-in-Residence, “Ubu” is a reflection of paradoxical inequalities throughout history and the modern day. Performers and audiences came together in the pouring rain to brave the elements and prove that the show must go on. Originally presented in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, “Ubu” is presented by invitation of Imma Prieto. Wilson’s work is being shown in New York for the first time in nearly a decade.

Katimari Niskala, “Veden Virran Velloma.” Photo by Miguel McSongwe, BFA, courtesy of The Watermill Center.

Highlights included Afra Al Dhaheri’s “Tangle, Untwist, REWIND: Sweat For Years To Come” exploring hair as a mode of enduring labor to conform with cultural ideologies of the female body. Ola Maciejewska’s “The Second Body” featured performer Leah Marojevič’s powerful manipulation of large melting ice sculptures across her bare torso. Grammy award-winning violinist, Jennifer Koh, performed “Bach: Selections From Six Solo Sonatas and Partitas for Violin”, which brought Bach’s sonatas and partitas to life, resonating throughout The Center’s interior.

Guests were also invited to view a new exhibition by Italian artist Alessandro Di Pietro. Di Pietro’s “Ghostwriting Paul Thek: Time Capsules and Reliquaries”, curated by Peter Benson Miller and Cornelia Mattiacci, honors works by the late Paul Thek and continues his practice posthumously. “Ghostwriting Paul Thek” is on view through August 18th. The artistic process behind works featured during the Benefit was uniquely emphasized, as the majority of the works were realized on-site by the artists in the weeks leading up to the benefit.

Casilda Madrazo & Esteban Chapela, “Coreografía Cantada.” Photo by Maria Baranova Suzuki, BFA, courtesy of The Watermill Center.

Among the notable attendees at this year’s benefit were Daniel Arsham, Kelly Behun, Karolina Blaberg, William Campbell and Christine Wächter Campbell, Lucinda Childs, Blythe Danner, Lisa Ehrenkranz, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, Coco Fusco, Cuba Gooding Jr., Audrey Gruss, Emilia Kabokov, Wendy Keys, Helen King, Jennifer Koh, Robert Longo, Lisa Perry, Tatiana Platt and Campion Platt, Polina Proshkina, Katharine Rayner, Gabrielle Richardson, Legacy Russell, Katharina Otto-Bernstein and Nathan Bernstein, Anastasiya Siro, Helen Lee Warren and David Warren, Robert Wilson, and Young Paris.

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